To the Giants

I see you in the exalted journals,
astonished by your concrete subjects,
perfect imagery and veiled conclusions.
Only you can do this.  Others try
to cage what has to soar.  You tie
one-pound-test to it and set it free
When the line breaks you have a poem.
I've seen you write four hundred lines
on roasted meat, a hundred on zucchinis.
You can make poetry out of a dishcloth.

I sent my work to one of you once.
Your secretary wrote me back:
"Mr.  S-- no longer comments on others' work
because of his busy schedule."
I thought your next book sucked.
I swear the two events were not related.

Maybe you remember
how it was before you "made it."
I thought if I could pin
your glittering eyes with just a line,
I'd have a chance.  Instead I drop
rectangular white prayers in mailboxes
and change commemoratives for luck.
When the rejection slips arrive,
I file them under "What the editors missed."
They always say: "We regret your work
does not suit our publication's
needs at this time,"   As if!
As if they had needs!  As if
it were a matter of timing!

I dream of an editor
in a blue paisley suit who likes martinis
rummaging through the "slush" pile.
She finds my poem about the possum.
Her cat-eye glasses slip her bridge,
eyes squint like commas.  Another martini
and she thinks "Why not?" until the Glucks,
Merwins and Ashberrys start levitating
from her in-box to divide
the sorcerers from the apprentices.

I have so little time, she thinks,
and this is not the time for risks--
subscriptions are static, the board is short
of funds, besides, even angstrom-thin pages
could not accommodate all the deserving.
Prides already war over my bleached savannas.
If another craves entrance, let him bring rains
like Elijah, make the ink run.

C. E. Chaffin